The Genealogy of
Branscomb land in Brunswick and Greensville Counties, Virginia
When Brunswick County was formed in 1720 it incorporated a small segment from the southwest corner of Isle of Wight County plus a somewhat larger portion from Prince George County, but the major part came from Surry County, which borders Isle of Wight County on the west. Today the hardwood trees that are mentioned in the grants and deeds of the mid-1700's are nearly all gone; the pines continue to flourish. The land of Brunswick County is flat and sandy and with several swampy areas. Truck farming is a principal activity, and peanuts constitute a major crop. Several commercial agencies in the area are engaged in processing forest products. The current scene may provide hints about the area to which Richard Branscomb migrated prior to 1750.
In 1781 Brunswick County was divided into two parts. The portion east of a line running north-south at approximately 77°39' 02"W became Greensville County. That line bisected the 845 acres which Richard Branscomb had owned at the time of his death in 1775. By that date, of course, all of Richard Sr.'s land had been sold or had been apportioned among the sons who were named in his will. The tax rolls for 1782-1787 showed Sarah (the mother) and Richard II in Brunswick County (Sarah was listed only in 1782 and 1787.) Thomas was not listed in either county in 1782, and was thereafter in Greensville County. John was taxed in Brunswick County in 1782 and thereafter in Greensville County.
In November 1787 Greensville County was increased by an additional wedge-shaped tract from Brunswick County: the new line began at the Meherrin River and ran southwest to intersect the southern boundary of the state at approximately 77°42'08"W (see sketch below). This new line brought all but a sliver of the 845 acres into Greensville County.
The Old Fort Road.The tract that was sold to William Richardson and the portions bequeathed to Thomas and John all bordered upon or included sections of the Old Fort Road. This road began at Williamsburg in James City County and ran westward to Fort Christianna in western Brunswick County. The fort was built in 1714 as a protection for European settlers and for some Indians against hostile tribes. The Old Fort Road figured briefly in the American Revolution. In May 1781 Lord Cornwallis was on his way northward after his disastrous southern campaign (he won most of the battles but was rapidly losing the war). Colonel Banastre Tarleton and his Tory Legion were in the vanguard of the British army. When he neared Emporia, Tarleton sent his cavalry “some twenty miles west” on the Old Fort Road to forage for provisions. The residents were forewarned of his coming, and they had hidden their livestock and food. The foragers complained that they received nothing but dry bread. This story was passed down through the generations, and eventually the Old Fort Road was renamed Dry Bread Road. (Douglas Summers Brown, Ed., Sketches of Greensville County, Virginia 1650-1967. Richmond: Whittel & Shepperson, 1968, pp. 65-66.)
Some of the Branscomb sons were probably involved in
the incident which gave Dry Bread Road its name. No evidence has been
found, however, to show that they participated in the American Revolution.
What is known is that in 1775 two regiments of regulars were raised
from Brunswick County, and several companies of riflemen were recruited
for border defense. A Committee of Correspondence was formed. Both Brunswick
and Greensville Counties, when it was formed, provided clothing for the army. A detachment
of militia from Brunswick County was involved in military activity around
Norfolk and Portsmouth in 1777. In 1780 a militia unit was formed, but
it was poorly clothed, and there were only 22 muskets for the 225 militiamen;
the group was discharged. Again in 1781 some troops from Brunswick County
went to Surry County, and again they were so poorly armed that they
were sent home. Some Brunswick soldiers were in Petersburg in December
1780, at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in March 1781, and at the
Battle of Yorktown in September-October 1781. The records that have
been preserved for these military groups do not include the names of
any Branscombs. (Gay Neale, Brunswick County, Virginia, 1729-1975.
Brunswick County Bicentennial Committee, 1975.)
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